By Bonson Lam
Forget images of dirty showers and smelly gym change rooms at this youth hostel. The Akita Youthpal Youth Hostel is more like a resort than a youth hostel. In fact, you might struggle to find the sign for the word “hostel”, as all you see is a slick round modern conference like building set in park like settings, about 20 minutes by bus from JR Akita and then less than 10 min walk from the bus stop/ convenience store. If you forgot something at the convenience store, there is a store on site that is open from Store open 7am to 10pm
There is even a free wi-fi spot and internet corner, however Facebook is blocked. This is just part of life at the youth hostel, where there are curfews and rules, like no talking in the rooms after lights out. But at least you are assured of a peaceful sleep.
The staff doesn’t speak much English but can read and write English, so if you aren't getting through, write down your question and gesture if required.
When emailing please give them time to reply and also be very clear and simple in your questions. For example I didn't know that you have to be a Hosteling International or Japan member to stay in the dormitory. Interestingly, non-members can stay in the single rooms, however this means paying 4800 yen instead of 2800 yen. The rooms are clean and nice, However if you want to be based in the city you can stay in a business hotel for around 5000 yen.
Check-in is from 3 pm; with the front desk open from 7am to 10pm. Breakfast is from 7am to 9am for 550 yen. They also serve lunch from 11am to 2pm, and Dinner from 6pm to 1030pm, for 1050 yen. If you are having dinner, at their restaurant, be sure to let them know beforehand. It is almost like a school camp where if you want to, you don’t have to cook at all. Adding to the school camp atmosphere is the free tennis and basketball courts, so being only a 52 bed hostel; there are plenty of opportunities to bond with your housemates. They also have private meeting rooms, so you can imagine coming here for a conference. Checkout is before 10 am.
Room rates will vary depending on whether you are a Hosteling International (HI) or Japan member, a non-member, traveling alone or in a group. Whether you want to be cheap and cheerful in the dormitory or have some privacy in a private double room, the Akita Youthpal hostel has something for everyone.
While it is some distance to Akita City, it is close to the coast and the Port Tower Selion is just a short bus ride away. There is also a park, and the site of an ancient Akita Castle nearby. To get to the city, catch the 120, 121, 122, 132 or 133 bus opposite the convenience store. There is usually one every 20 to 30 minutes, departing at 6, 30 and 49 minutes past the hour on the weekends.
So after a day of sightseeing all I want to do is to soak in a hot tub or shower. This hostel has both in abundance! There are super cleanshowers, deep bathtubs and toilets, so I never had to wait to use the conveniences. The Bath time is open in the evening from 5pm to 11pm and in the mornings from 6am to 8am
The common dining/living/ kitchen area is great to meet your housemates. The Youthpal Hostel prides itself in bring Japan to the world, and the world to Japan, so whether you want to converse in Japanese or English with the Japanese guests and staff, or cheer for your favourite football team even single travellers will not feel alone here, being like a home away from home. And speaking of home, they have all the usual home conveniences like laundry and air conditioning, but as their mum does not work here, you have to wash your own dishes. But what a better way to bond over some suds in the kitchen after a friendly chat at the dinner table!
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